Critical Research

Project #1: Category Shift

“Given a different set of data or expectations design research can build in an inherent criticality that produces provoking, tactile, and oppositional results.” – Peter Lunenfeld, The Design Cluster
Peter Lunenfeld wrote the Preface to Design Research: Methods and Perspectives in which he makes a convincing argument for the paramount importance of research in design. Our first project examines this particular quote in detail.
First and foremost, we have to FIND a different set of data and expectations.
1. Select a category of object that you will be working within, for example; table lamp, conversational chair, bed-side table, or vase, to name a few.
2. The first 5 weeks of our project will be focused gathering information about your category through various research methodologies that I will walk us through. Each week you will have a different focus for your research and you’ll collect and document this information on your research blog.
It is VITAL to the research process that you be as open as possible to the unexpected. That you take roads that may lead nowhere. That you delve into the totally peculiar interests of your own as you come upon them. If you find that your rock collection from your childhood relates to your investigation and you think geodes and fossils are totally interesting, then by all means, follow your gut and find out what’s there.
As Lunenfeld notes, “Design research is a method of invention that sides with finding out rather than finding the already found,” so it’s important that you don’t have a plan. You should not be designing anything during this process. If you find that you come across ideas as you work, which you likely will, then jot them down and keep moving. You can always come back to them, just don’t hold onto them for your survival and keep working away from what has already been found.
Then, our research will have built-in the inherent criticality that will allow us to design something that will yield “provoking, tactile, and oppositional results”.

Aldo Bakker: Jug + Cup, 5 different colors, 2011, Porcelain Made by Frans Ottink, Represented by Particles Photography by Erik and Petra Hesmerg

3. Shift the way we think about and interact within your category of object. You will do this, by proposing something that will “produce provoking, tactile, and oppositional results”.
4. I will move you through the process of ideation and you will propose a few iterations. You’ll make several ideation and iteration sketches.
5. You’ll make a scale model of you proposed object.
* All of this will continue to be documented on your research blog 🙂
6. You will give a presentation of your blog to discuss your research and proposed object.

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